13 June 2007
Kate Jeffrey and colleagues in Garvan's Immunology and Inflammation
Program have discovered that the enzyme PAC-1 part of an essential
pathway in our body that transmits danger and environmental signals is
only made by immune cells - a finding which has major implications for
the design of a new class of anti-inflammatory drugs.
PAC-1 belongs to a class of enzymes called dual specificity phosphatases (DUSPs) that are the chief regulators of the MAP Kinase signalling pathway. Different tissues contain different DUSPs which enables them to individually respond to the incoming danger and environmental signals; for example they may undergo apoptosis (cell death) or in the case of immune cells release inflammatory factors.
Kate explains that the Garvan study demonstrates PAC-1 is absolutely required for immune cells to function. "The clues to its importance come from the fact that it is found at very high levels and its production is very tightly regulated. Without it, immune cells cannot do 3 crucial things: survive migrate or release their potent inflammatory mediators. Thus, PAC-1 provides us with a promising target for inflammatory diseases" she said.